| Deputy chief minister Sudhir Mahto joins Suman Mahto at a victory rally in Jamshedpur. Picture by Bhola Prasad
Jamshedpur/Ranchi, Sept. 2: Suman Mahto, JMM candidate and widow of Sunil Mahto, led from start to finish to romp home the Jamshedpur Lok Sabha by-election, defeating her nearest rival Dinesh Sarangi of BJP by a margin of 58,586 votes.
While the BJP managed to reduce the margin by almost half from Abha Mahto’s defeat by 1.05 lakh votes in the hands of Sunil Mahto in 2004, its chance to wrest back the seat which it dominated for many elections went abegging with Bahujan Samaj Party and Jharkhand Vikas Morcha playing spoilsport bagging more than 67,000 votes.
Suman Mahto termed the victory as homage to her late husband who was gunned down by Maoists at Baguria village on March 4, 2007. She said at one point the rivals had ruled her out saying that the sympathy factor will not work.
“But they were proved wrong as the people have not forgotten Sunil Mahto and his contribution for the constituency even after six months of his death and they will continue to remember him,” she added.
What was expected to be a four-cornerned contest turned out to be a BJP-JMM battle royale but the two parties made a significant dent in the vote bank hampering the BJP which had done a great deal of homework.
While the JMM played on the sympathy factor and also on the large turnout of rural voters compared to their urban counterparts, the BJP was banking on the twin city constituencies and Jugsalai apart from Dinesh Sarangi’s stronghold Bahragora. But surprisingly, Mahto managed to outsmart Sarangi in Bahragora, too.
Apart from Jamshedpur (East), the JMM won in four Assembly constituencies
Salkhan Murmu, who was leading in the early rounds was soon overtaken by JVM’s Bikas Mukherjee, a first time contestant.
Meanwhile, enthused by Suman Mahto’s victory at the by-elections for East Singhbhum Lok Sabha seat, both chief minister Madhu Koda and JMM leader Shibu Soren air-dashed to Delhi.
While Koda has gone, said sources, to impress upon the central leaders how the common man in the state was really happy with the functioning of his government, Soren, it is believed, will try to impress how JMM’s representation in the Union cabinet ought to be ensured since it happened to be the most dominant political force in Jharkhand.
This comes a day after Soren not only “humiliated” Koda at a public meeting in Dumka, but also did not mince words while criticising the failures of the Koda government. Though Soren had accompanied the chief minister for distributing appointment letters among the NREGA and anganwadi workers, he did not utter a word in Koda’s praise, who is about to complete one year in office despite being an “Independent”.
He instead went on alleging that not a single road in the state was pliable and that the funds meant for “welfare” were being swindled.
Soren also added that no good work has been done in Jharkhand during the last one year and opined that “aerial visits” by ministers and top ranking officials were not going to improve the health of the state.
Though Koda had planned his tour to Delhi several days ago, he did not have a specific agenda before boarding the service flight.
Koda said that he was going to Delhi for “routine discussions with senior UPA leaders”. He repeated that he was ready to quit the chief minister’s chair any moment.
“We have been winning the by-elections, which proves that the masses are happy with performances of our government. I will also seek their consent on common minimum programme and distribution of boards and corporations among the ruling partners,” he added.
Soren, too, decided to go soon after Suman Mahto was declared elected.
All through the day, Soren had kept himself “confined” at his Morabadi residence. He even avoided meeting visitors and his eyes remained glued to the television. There was no big bang celebration at his residence, too.